Having first met Joseph at FantasyCon years ago, I find out he's also based here in the capital. And not a million miles away from me - which, thankfully, has translated into drinks and/or pizza. The sci-fi and fantasy author knows the value of keeping his head down while letting game and achievement speak for itself.
1. For those who don't know, who are you?
My name's Joseph Elliott-Coleman. Writer of science fiction and fantasy. My work has been published in Rebellion Books – short story in the anthology Not So Stories and a prequel novella set in the Judge Dredd universe entitled Judges: The Patriot/Judges Volume 2, NewCon Books - London Centric: tales of future London - and the comics magazine 2000AD
2. Game talk – how do you organise and manage your game? How has it evolved?
“Never teach the Wu-Tang!!”
But seriously, my process is very organic. Normally I start jotting ideas down in notebooks then write a very loose plot outline. Then I start work on the story proper. I never work on one thing to the exception of others, I always have multiple works on the go. That's why when I arrive at a problem, I switch gears work on something else. Normally I’m able to solve whatever problem I’ve encountered while writing something else. The brain is a funny old thing!
3. Talk us through one of your biggest achievements in your game – give us the story behind it. How did it play out?
Well the manuscript I’ve just submitted to literary agents, a science fantasy novel entitled “Frostfeld: The End of The World As You Know” was a novel that took me 13 years and 20 drafts to write. It was the first novel I wrote when I started writing again at age 27 as a final major project for my Illustration degree. I meant it to be an illustrated novel, but in the doing of it I realised that the words were far more important to me than doing of the art. So I continued working on it after I graduated.
However, every draft I wrote wasn’t up to snuff. It didn’t have the kick or love that I wanted to permeate the pages.
At a certain point I wrote another novel entirely, (which I really should get back to rewriting because it quite good if I say so myself and it set in the same world) so that I could teach myself the skills need to write what I wanted.
So, roll on March 2020 and Corona hits and I’m furloughed from my job. I decide to focus all my energies to get the novel working. What it took was moving it from one country to another - it was originally set in the Netherlands. I moved it to the UK – rewriting almost 50% of the first half of the novel and almost entirely rewriting the second and third parts.
It worked. I was happy and satisfied. Sometimes if a thing isn’t working you have to junk it and start over.
4. It's great if things go according to plan. Tell us about when it didn't; how did you handle it? What were/are those challenges?
My Judges story, The Patriots, due to working on a licenced property – its set in the Dreddverse decades before the Judge Dredd comics series - there was a strong editorial hand involved that made sure were contradicting anything that had happened, was about to, or was in the works. I got almost halfway though writing the story before my editor and I remembered that I hadn’t been specific as to the plot of the story. It was discovered that what I’d written needed to be rewritten due to major contradictory points, past present and future. We decided instead of junking everything and starting again, he’d extend my deadline and allow me to write the entire thing then go back and make the necessary changes.
Let that be a lesson, guys: always write a synopsis of the project you mean to write so your editor can sign off on it.
5. Give a pep-talk to someone on game in your field.
Everyone has a method that works of them. Find yours. If it works, it works. If it doesn’t, find what does. Though I’d humble suggest that you keep a notepad on your person or within arm’s reach because story ideas are like manner from heaven that falls constantly. You have to be ready to catch it. Also, if you find yourself in the position of having an editor you’re on good terms with, communicate with them if you’re running late. Don’t try to game them. Don’t wait until the 11th hour before you tell them you can’t make that deadline. You’re part of a system: links in a chain. When all else fails, be a professional.
Talk to your editor.
My story “Death Aid” in Ian Whates’ brilliant science fiction anthology “London Centric: Tales of future London” is one I’m particularly proud of. Alongside over great stories it tells of a veteran of the Eurowars in a very near future coming to terms with the reality of a derelict Croydon where the family of choice is of great importance.
It’s quite heartfelt and moving and it probably the work I’m most proud of.